The NFC came away with a 32-12 win over the AFC in the 2021 Pro Bowl on Sunday in what was perhaps the most unique edition of the annual showcase.
The NFL announced in October it was canceling the Pro Bowl game itself amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the event would be reimagined and played on Madden NFL 21 using the respective Pro Bowl rosters.
Each conference also had a prominent name take charge of the team for each quarter. Deshaun Watson, Keyshawn Johnson, Derrick Henry and Snoop Dogg represented the AFC, with Kyler Murray, Bubba Wallace, Jamal Adams and Marshawn Lynch guiding the NFC.
Murray was crowned the MVP, at times assuming the dual roles of player and coach for the NFC.
Things unraveled for the AFC in the second quarter when Johnson opposed Wallace.
Johnson is a three-time Pro Bowler and was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they won a Super Bowl in 2002. His skills on the physical gridiron didn't translate to the virtual gridiron, though.
Wallace, meanwhile, was scoring at will with the NFC:
By the time Johnson handed the sticks over to Henry, the AFC was sitting in a 26-6 hole. With the quarters limited to only five minutes, that kind of halftime deficit effectively ended the contest.
Things didn't improve for the AFC under Henry's stewardship in the third quarter. Running a no-huddle offense, Adams hit Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson on the same post route for four straight plays en route to a touchdown.
Adams also subbed himself into the game in the place of Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker and notched a pair of interceptions.
The Pro Bowl will presumably resume its usual festivities in 2022 if the pandemic has slowed enough to allow for large in-person gatherings.
The NFL reinvigorated the buildup to the game by creating the Skills Showdown. The league may have stumbled into what should be another regular feature with Sunday's Madden encounter.
If the Madden Pro Bowl is brought back for next year, the AFC may not extend another invite to Johnson, though.